As much as I love Manny Pacquiao, I hope he finally comes to his senses and ends it all this Saturday night with yet another title fight, this time against Antonio Margarito.
After all, the Pacman has to save his energies for his day job in the Philippine Congress, and his real passion in life—leadership.
Note I said leadership, which is not politics, necessarily.
Yes, congress is all about politics, but Manny’s gift goes beyond that. He’s got the most important trait for a leader: charisma. People follow and listen. This is something that can be developed, hopefully, for positive purposes. But it is Manny’s true gift. His fists may have brought him fame, but his real talent goes beyond the ring.
Like Obama did in 2008, there’s something about Pacquiao that inspires hope.
Perhaps it’s the back story that creates such a foundation for a mythic life. You know, the hardscrabble upbringing, the tale of a street kid in Manila who turns to boxing to help feed his family. Boxing discovered and nurtured his talent to the point where he is now the PPP (pound for pound) champion , and the most intriguing fighter in boxing.
Why stop there?
Because there is a life after boxing, and to preserve it, there’s no better way than to end the pugilistic phase at the top.
The Margarito fight is not going to be easy. No Palooka, he’s bigger, maybe stronger, than Pacquaio.
On his HBO reality show, Pacquiao keeps smiling and says his speed will win out over Margarito. And manager Freddie Roach says they’ll be making sure Margarito doesn’t cheat as he has in the past when Margarito’swraps had what I call “punch enhancers.”
But then what do they do about the simple fact that Margarito seems to want this one more. He’s on a comeback. He’s looking for redemption. Hunger? Margarito has it.
For Pacquiao, being hungry and staying motivated does seem to have been a problem during his training sessions.
Reports from his camp showed that the regimen was not as rigorous nor as hard as it was for Pacquiao’s previous title fights.
Even Pacquiao’s manager Freddie Roach was expressing disappointment in news stories about how things were going in the Pacman’s training camp in Baguio and then in Los Angeles.
Once in the U.S., there were more distractions. As a Philippine Congressman, the champ was sought by no less a figure than Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to help with Reid’s excruciating battle against Tea Party upstart Sharon Angle.
Pacquiao actually broke camp to go to Vegas to rally Filipinos and other Asian Americans and minorities for the embattled democratic leader Reid.
And here is where Pacquiao’s value soared. The champ visiting Vegas in the final days before the midterm election helped Reid solidify his Asian American support. According to CNN exit polls, Asian Americans, just 4 percent of the overall electorate, gave Reid 79 percent of their vote. Angle got just 19 percent.
The 79 percent from the Asian Americans was larger than the black vote for Reid (78 percent), and the Latino vote for Reid (68percent). Together it was enough to assure Reid’s job in the Democrat’s midterm nightmare.
Manny magic? It definitely helped. When Reid was in trouble, Manny was called. He delivered.
On Saturday, he could deliver again.
An 8th crown in 8 weight divisions. ( I think he’ll outpoint but not knockout Margarito).
But if Pacquiao dominates, soon the talk will be whether he goes up to Middleweight and fights the winner of next week’s Sergio Martinez/Paul Williams fight. (Forget about Mayweather, race baiter and poseur). Are you ready for nine crowns in nine divisions?
But is that where Pacquiao’s charisma and leadership are best suited?
All you have to see is an image of an addled Muhammad Ali in a wheelchair to know you can’t leave boxing too soon. Nor should you keep doing it, just for the money.
We shall see on Saturday if Manny’s heart is still in the game.